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Rethinking Radical Scotland: Cultural and Social Transformation Since 1968

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Room D133

Paisley Campus, University of the West of Scotland

High Street

Paisley

PA1 2BE

United Kingdom

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In May 1968, student protests in Paris escalated into an explosion of unrest. Strikes, marches and occupations spread quickly throughout France. Across the world, similar upheavals preceded and followed the Parisian events. These took different forms and trajectories but each posed a radical and left-wing challenge to the established order. In most accounts of the era, ‘1968’, ‘Paris 1968’ or ‘May 1968’ are not only discussed as a specific year, place or month in history. Avishek Ganguly describes '68 as “a synecdoche, a rhetorical figure that may be understood as a placeholder for all the diverse social and political movements taking place at that time around the world.” Recent interpretations have made this synecdochal quality more explicit, referring to 'les années 68' (‘the ‘68 years’) and seeking to “de-centre” their significance. From this vantage point of historical and geographical de-centring, we can see that the ‘68 years were not simply a set of political events, but a pivotal historical moment in which a far broader set of social and cultural transformations took political form.

Scotland has its own version of the ‘68 myth: it didn’t happen here. Despite the equally powerful story of ‘radical Scotland,’ the country seems to have little claim to a place in the global pantheon of the ‘68 years. “Europe has forgotten you. What are you? You are a silence,” wrote Iain Crichton Smith in his poem 'Scotland', published in August that year. Yet in the fifty years since May ‘68, historians, literary scholars and social scientists have since shown Scotland to have undergone the same extraordinary set of transformations during the 1960s and ‘70s, in politics, religion, economics, social structure and culture, which underpinned political radicalism elsewhere. This one-day workshop, organised by Scottish Critical Heritage, will bring together a range of scholars and cultural practitioners to explore how, five decades on, we can reinterpret Scotland’s experience of the ‘68 years in the context of the broader social and cultural transformations which have given ‘68 its mythic, memorialised quality.

Morning Session

Opening remarks: Ewan Gibbs, University of the West of Scotland

Panel 1: The meaning of 1968 in Scotland and beyond

Chair: Rory Scothorne, University of Edinburgh

Lucy Brown, University of Strathclyde

Eleanor Bell, University of Strathclyde

Ewen Cameron, University of Edinburgh

Other panellists TBC

Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session

Panel 2: Scottish identities after 1968

Chair: Ewan Gibbs, University of the West of Scotland

Emilia Pietka-Nykaza, University of the West of Scotland

Satnam Virdee, University of Glasgow

Jeffrey Meek, University of Glasgow

Duncan Sim, University of the West of Scotland

Concluding roundtable: Scotland before and after 1968

Gary West, University of Edinburgh

Esther Breitenbach, University of Edinburgh

If you have any questions about the event, please contact the organisers at scottishcriticalheritage [at] gmail [dot] com

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Date and Time

Location

Room D133

Paisley Campus, University of the West of Scotland

High Street

Paisley

PA1 2BE

United Kingdom

View Map

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